Guest Post by Yesenia Ye
More than other generations, Millennials are known for seeking out work that they find personally fulfilling. In fact, in a recent poll conducted by Allstate and National Journal, younger Americans named “doing something enjoyable” as the most important factor for a first job, followed by “making a difference.”
Of course, discovering the job you were meant to have may require some exploration and, in many cases, further education. This can be a daunting prospect for working millennials torn between holding on to their steady paycheck or pursuing an advanced degree that opens up new opportunities.
Pursuing Career and Education
The good news is, it’s not hard to do both. Online degree programs make it easier for those pursuing career and education. It’s possible to go after your short-term financial and professional goals while making meaningful progress toward your long-term objectives. By working and studying, you can gain professional experience, make connections and earn money, all while progressing toward your ideal industry and position.
Finance Your Dreams
If you’re like a lot of millennials, and you’re still paying down student loans, adding the expense of another degree can feel like a huge burden. When you factor in living expenses and lost earnings during the years you’re studying, it’s no wonder so many young professionals choose to forgo pursuing advanced degrees.
We all know that money shouldn’t hold you back from going after a job you would love, but the reality is that finances play a large role in these decisions. Your personal finances will determine whether you can pay for another degree, but keep in mind that putting too much financial strain on yourself can hold you back from fully enjoying your new career path.
One of the biggest benefits of pursuing a degree and working is that you don’t have to stop earning a salary while earning your degree. Because you’re taking classes online, you’ll also save money on potential moving expenses as well as the cost of commuting to and from class.
In some cases, continuing to work may mean your employer picks up the bill for all or a portion of your tuition. Over the long term, your degree is also likely to boost your earning potential, making the financial benefits of studying and working, even more attractive.
Hone a Variety of Skill Sets
No matter what type of industry you’re in, building a diverse array of abilities will give you a professional advantage. Balancing work while attending school is one of the best ways to develop a range of hard and soft skills, as well as online savvy.
Obtaining an advanced degree supplies you with the practical knowledge that, in some cases, can only come from a formal degree program. For some industries, such as accounting and nursing, this knowledge is required to enter the field.
Even though they’re easy to take for granted, soft skills are just as essential for career success and advancement. Remaining in your current job allows you to continue honing these abilities, which can include collaborating, networking, leading and problem-solving.
Obtaining a degree online also equips you with valuable online communication abilities. Whether you’re attending virtual classes or delivering an online presentation, being comfortable with technology and online interaction is an increasingly important skill for success in any field.
Carve Out Your Path
Working while earning a degree is certainly doable, but there are a few things you should keep in mind. Start by finding the right online degree program for you. Today’s online degree offerings feature a wide variety of concentrations—including law, nursing and social work—and are available at top-ranked colleges and universities. Many of these programs take advantage of technology that can provide a similar learning environment as an on-campus experience, complete with rigorous curricula, real-world learning experiences, and live classroom interaction.
Whatever specialty and university you choose, make sure your program’s structure complements your job schedule and other demands. While some courses may have set meeting times, others offer a great deal of flexibility, making it easier to accommodate even nontraditional work schedules.
Earning a degree while working in a full-time job is more feasible than ever, and it’s one of the best ways for millennials to quickly reach the next stages of their careers. Take a look at the online degree options in your field, and start planning the path to a career that offers the fulfillment you’ve been seeking—and deserve.
Yesenia Ye is a research associate at 2U.com. She and her team work to provide aspiring individuals the knowledge they need to choose a master’s degree or life path that is best for them. Yesenia is originally from western New York State, but currently works in New York City. In her free time, she loves to travel, sketch, and do yoga.
Join the Conversation
Balancing Act: Pursuing Career and Education
When you consider “education” as specific courses or programs, or professional development, as part of your work there is no need to be too concerned about balance as both are part of the whole. Some talk about work/life balance and what they often mean is the separation of personal from professional activities and that’s understood most often in the amount of time allocated. Making sure you have enough time to take care of yourself often receives the short end of the stick and while some believe that you have to make sacrifices to “get ahead” the price paid in terms of compromising health and relationships is worth considering. Figure out your priorities and pay attention to the top five. More than that and it can be a little crazy making. Just be sure you know what you value most and why.
Well said, Gary!